It seems that New York emcee veteran Canibus finally gave some people what they were asking for with second album of 2010, C of Tranquility. Canibus seemed to return to more conventional beat selection, and cut down the number of features on his album – two things that detracted from February’s Melantonin Magik. Complete with support from the legendary DJ Premier and Domingo, C of Tranquility is easily Canibus’ most wide-reaching and Hip Hop-rooted works in close to a decade. However, the human encyclopedia still slows himself up and hinders appeal with new levels of self-idolization.
From start to finish, C of Tranquility is driven by Canibus multi-syllabically rhyming about his aptitude as an emcee, mixed with detailed rhymes about esoteric subjects rarely touched on by emcees. There is no break, until the very last track, which is the one and only instance of a feature. But it’s just a remix of a standout track from earlier in the project – the DJ Premier assisted “Golden Terra of Rap” featuring the iM label-mates Von Pea and Donwill of Tanya Morgan, Truthlive, and Moe Green, and only brings a few new verses to the table.
When Canibus is left to fend for himself, this album maintains the subject matter that’s made the emcee a cult star, and shunned him by the mainstream. Digesting Canibus’ words takes focus and thought, and although some fans surely appreciate that in their music, this will alienate the crowd that is just looking for something to kick back, relax, light a blunt, and groove out to.
One of C of Tranquility‘s more audibly appealing offerings is the J-Zone-produced “Free Words.” The drawback is that it’s barely the length of an interlude, clocking in at 1:10. And besides this and the aforementioned DJ Premier joint, no other track stands out as good or bad. It’s simply passable. DJ D Sharp provides precise scratches on Scram Jones’ banger “Captain Cold Crush,” which serves as a decent way to introduce C of Tranquility, and leads right into “Salute,” produced by M.O.P./Smoothe Da Hustler hit-maker D/R Period, which sounds like something that Danze and Fame would have slaughtered. Thankfully Canibus’ rhymes are at some of their most palatable on “Salute” (when his lizard king references get ignored), as he spits, “I’m the studio night owl / Stress give me white eyebrows / Who the fuck I gotta fight with now? / Yeah, conspicuous characters creep through America with a killer chemical in a canister called Canibus, craziest crystal / Communicate correct signal / They call it criminal, I call it lyrical.”
After listening to C of Tranquility, it seems as though Canibus tried to make an independent album that sounded closer to his two decade-old major label releases. Although there is evidence of a lot of effort put into the project, Canibus’ delivery and subject matter are what they’ve always been. Uber-complex lyricism, esoteric subject matter, rapid flows, a raspy voice, and not too much charisma still reign supreme. For serious fans of Canibus’ work, this album is a benchmark achievement and something to celebrate. For others, this is the emcee’s return to the New York sound that made him, and evidence of a homecoming from one of Hip Hop’s most elusive characters ever.